My goal is to be accepted to a physician assistant program. This is my dream and I am struggling to find the right path for me to become a more competitive applicant. I applied the 2015-2016 cycle to programs that do not have any GPA requirement and prefer a lot of healthcare experience. I was rejected by all 11 programs and I was not interviewed at any of them. I contacted each program and each program encouraged my application because I met their qualifications. I am 30 years old and I really did not do well in my undergraduate education and it's haunting me now for PA school applications. When I applied to schools last year they calculated my overall GPA at 2.71 and overall science at 2.61. I realize this is not a competitive stat for schools but my post bacc GPA is a 3.2 so I at least show improvement since I graduated. I have taken and re-taken prerequisites at a community college to boost my GPA since 2012.
I have been working in healthcare ever since I graduated in 2008. I was an EMT on a private ambulance for one year, an EMT in the emergency room for one year, one year working in research and diagnostics for an autoimmune biotechnology company, three years working with schizophrenia patients (interviewing them to confirm diagnosis, blood draws, cognitive exams) for research at UCSD and I currently work at the University of Chicago coordinating clinical trials. I work primarily in ophthalmology where I am in constant communication with each study patient's providers to inform them of the trial, I also have been published in urology, coordinating and administering a muliticenter outcomes study in the pediatric population.
At this point I understand that I need to prove to admissions that I can handle a rigorous curriculum. I have talked to several admissions personnel at the programs I applied to for assistance. Some have been helpful with what I can do to improve my application. I plan to enroll as a full time student at a 4 year institution to increase my overall and science GPAs to a 3.0. It will take me at least a full year to do this and that's as high as my GPA will get me if I maintain a 4.0 GPA. I volunteer at a free clinic in the lab as a phlebotomist, drawing blood, giving vaccines and sending labs. I plan on continuing to volunteer here while taking coursework full time. I may stay part time working at my current position but some schools have recommended going back to EMT or as a scribe. Do you think this will help since I have not been an EMT since 2009?
In a year from now, if I have a 3.0 GPA for cumulative and science GPAs and apply to CASPA to various programs, will I stand a chance at admission anywhere with students who have much higher GPAs? I have been told by my undergraduate pre-PA adviser to essentially give up and if I want to remain in healthcare, try something like respiratory therapy or ophthalmic technician as a career. I am pretty stubborn when it comes to my passions. I cannot see myself in any other career in the future. I will be a physician assistant. Do you have any advice for me?
I appreciate any assistance. I understand I am not a standard applicant and there is no "right" path for me but I want to be sure I'm on the right track.